An English theoretical physicist, author and cosmologist Stephen William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942. He is presently the director of research at the ‘Centre for Theoretical Cosmology’ within the University of Cambridge. His scientific workings include gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity a collaboration with Roger Penrose on, and the Hawking radiation, a theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation. Hawking was the first to propose a theory of cosmology described by an amalgamation of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a huge supporter of the many-worlds understanding of quantum mechanics.
Hawkings is not only an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, but he is also a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and a receiver of the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics from 1979 to 2009 at the University of Cambridge and has achieved commercial success with works of general science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general. His book ‘A Brief History of Time’ has appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
Hawking has received numerous awards and honours. Hawking received the 2015 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award joint with Viatcheslav Mukhanov in Basic Sciences for discovering that the galaxies were made from quantum fluctuations in the early Universe.
Hawking has a rare slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), generally known as motor neurone disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease which has slowly paralysed him over the decades. Now he communicates using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device. During his final year at Oxford Hawking had experienced increasing clumsiness which includes falling on some stairs and difficulties when rowing. The problems got worse when his speech became slightly slurred. When he returned home for Christmas his family noticed the changes, and medical investigations were begun. When Hawking was 21, in 1963, the diagnosis of motor neurone disease came. It was then when the doctors gave him a life expectancy of two years.
Hawking developed a relationship with Jane Wilde, a friend of his sister, prior to his diagnosis with motor neurone disease when he was a graduate student at Cambridge. In 1964 the couple became engaged in October 1964 and the two were married on 14 July 1965. The couple have three children a son named Robert (born in May 1967), a daughter named Lucy (born in 1970) and another son named Timothy (born in April 1979). By the 1980’s, Hawking’s marriage began to strain. Jane started feeling overwhelmed by the intrusion into their family life of the required nurses and assistants. Hawking’s opinion on religion also conflicted with her strong Christian faith and resulted in tension. Hawking started becoming close to one of his nurses, Elaine Mason, in the late 1980’s, much to the dismay of some colleagues, caregivers and family members who were uneasy by her strength of personality and protectiveness. Hawking told Jane that he was leaving her for Mason and left the family home in February 1990. After his divorce from Jane in 1995, Hawking married Mason in the following September. After his second marriage, Hawking’s family felt excluded and side-lined from his life. In the early 2000’s for a period of about five years, his family and staff became increasingly concerned that he was being physically abused. Even police investigations had taken place which were closed as Hawking refused to make a complaint. Hawking and Mason quietly divorced in 2006, and Hawking resumed closer relationships with Jane, his children, and grandchildren.